Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bald Eagles in Robert E. Lee Park

It was not the first time I had seen one. My previous experience was about two years ago and the circumstances similar. I had entered Robert E. Lee Park from the northwestern entrance on Falls Road and hiked (slowly) for about 40 minutes; it takes time to stop and examine the wildflowers, butterflies and dragon flies.

Down the path and across the trestle bridge (where I saw an Eastern King Snake sunning itself) then down the slope that leads to a path along one of the streams that eventually empty into the Jones Falls went I. Oh was it hot and not yet 9:00 am. It was Memorial Day.

I was hoping to find marsh birds and wading birds and shore birds but not one did I see that morning. There were no Sandpipers nor were there Kildeers. Instead there were the rather brash and conversational Red Winged Blackbirds. They are attractive and interesting but plentiful and so my imagination was not piqued. There a million Robins I suppose but there are nearly that many in my neighborhood. No Yellow Legs or Green Herons though.

I went to my favorite spot which is a cement slab about 15"x15" that looks out upon the confluence of a couple of streams the names of which I do not remember. On my way to getting there I could hear a large number of Carp jumping out of the water to nail a morsel of the low flying dragon flies. As I trekked I was reminded of a similar event in which I got to that slab of cement and laid down hoping to photograph one of those Carp as they jumped. I failed at that and failed to photograph a spectacular scene only about 25 feet overhead. As I laid on the slab I could see in the water's reflection, a swooping Bald Eagle as it grabbed one of the unfortunate Carp out of the waters and flew off. The reflection was about as cool a bird image as could be and I was able to rise up an follow the Eagle as it flew off laden with a large lunch but I could not photograph it. It was an exhilarating moment none the less.

Those memories were brought back to me as I heard the splashing of exuberant and hungry Carp jumping about. I always take some time at this slab to sort of meditate which may be called wishful thinking. I never scan the area and leave if there is nothing interesting to see, I need to spend 10 or 20 minutes there because things can change.

As I entered my zen like moments just enjoying the presence of being there I was interrupted by a noise that I had heard but could not identify. It was sort of a shrill scream not the sort one would associate with America's symbol, but thathttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif is how it is. I did not immediately know what it was but as a birder I had to find out.

As fate, kismet and fortune would have it, about 15 feet above me on a branch, in clear view against a crystalline azure sky was a Bald Eagle and I had my camera. So I snapped off as many photos as I could failing to catch it in flight but satisfied with the several regal poses that I was able to secure.

Maybe it is motivated by some sort of patriotism. That term has been exploited by the less than conservative Neo-Cons these days; maybe it is a joy that was once considered endangered as a species is again thriving; maybe it is simply the excitement that such a regal species finds a habitat only a couple of miles from my home, none the less I was really excited to see and record a Bald Eagle a few feet above me.

Here is one of the shots I took of it on May 30, 2011.

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